NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Homeowners in Queens say they turned to the city for help and ended up with an expensive headache, as a call to 311 could end up costing them $5,000 or more.
“The curb is literally crumbled,” Mike Donovan said.
Donovan feels kicked to the curb by New York City.
“I think it’s a pure money-grab by the city, I do,” Donovan said.
Donovan and other homeowners on 157th Street in Whitestone grew tired of the crumbling curb in front of their homes.
“A number of the neighbors have tripped on them,” he said.
The curb is the city’s responsibility, so homeowners called 311 to report the problem.
“As far as the city’s concerned, this is less of a problem than this crack over here,?” Donovan said, pointing to a crack in the sidewalk.
Apparently, it is, because the Department of Transportation inspector sent to look at the situation hit homeowners with a violation notice, demanding they spend thousands to fix cracks and chips in the sidewalk.
“I want to get tough with them fixing the curb,” resident Giselle DeCamps said.
Former city councilman Tony Avella believes the DOT is trying to chill complaints to 311.
“They threaten you, ‘well we’re going to come out and look at your sidewalk at the same time, and if you have the slightest little crack, you’re going to get a violation which has to be fixed within 90 days,’” Avella said. “Meanwhile, you can wait five years for the curb to be fixed. This is extortion.”
Now, residents say they regret even alerting the city to the problem with the curb.
“Yes, definitely, I regret calling 311,” Stephanie Famosa said.
Residents say the curb is in much worse shape than the sidewalk, and they won’t fix the cracks until the city fixes the curb.
The Department of Transportation disputes the residents’ version of events. The agency claims the original 311 complaint had to do with the sidewalk, and not the curb, and that the order to fix the sidewalk is appropriate.